Charges filed against St. Paul man accused of shooting victim during catalytic converter theft

A St. Paul man has been charged in connection to a shooting during an attempted catalytic converter theft earlier this year in St. Paul.

Kaw Bleh Htoo, 22, is charged with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and two counts of first-degree attempted aggravated robbery for allegedly shooting a man while a partner tried to steal the man’s catalytic converter.

St. Paul police were called to a business near West Territorial Road and Raymond Avenue at around 3:40 p.m. on Feb. 21 on a report that someone had been shot.

The 51-year-old victim told police he’d been shot in the butt after noticing someone under an employee’s Toyota Tundra and confronting the person.

According to a criminal complaint, the victim said he put his foot on one of the legs sticking out from under the Tundra and yelled “stop that!” but then heard a gunshot, realized he’d been hit and went back inside the business. He suffered a broken pelvis and couldn’t walk for at least six weeks.

Surveillance video confirmed the man’s account and showed a dark blue, two-door Toyota Scion TC parked next to the Tundra, the complaint states. After the gunshot, the person under the Tundra scrambled into the Scion, which then fled the scene.

Two days later, police saw a vehicle matching the Scion’s description run a red light near Rice and Front streets. The Scion fled and crashed into a snowbank on Sylvan Street and the occupants ran away, the complaint states. However, police were able to find three people, including the driver — Eh Ler Pweh — and an ammunition magazine for a semi-automatic handgun. The Scion had also been reported stolen on Feb. 2.

Pweh admitted the gun was his and said he was trying to steal the catalytic converter at the business two days prior. However, he said the gunshot came from someone in the Scion.

The complaint states police were able to find text messages between Pweh and a number determined to belong to Htoo. When arrested on Wednesday, Htoo eventually admitted to shooting the man during the attempted catalytic converter theft, saying he was scared of the man. However, he wouldn’t say where the gun was and claimed he didn’t know it was loaded.

Htoo is scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday.

Pweh was also charged with two counts of first-degree attempted aggravated robbery and took a plea deal in which he pleaded guilty to one count earlier this month. Pweh’s sentencing is set for July 12.